19 May 2009

Lectio Divina

Couple thoughts that struck me from today's Office.

I've never contemplated the notion of light being sown. The LXX has "light dawns." But when we think of sowing a seed, and how our Lord likens His life to a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying, I wonder if we can see in our Lord's death and his Descent, the sowing of LIGHT into the realm and power of darkness. I am reminded of the ancient homily in the Roman office of readings for Holy Saturday where a light suddenly bursts upon those who were sitting in the nether gloom.

Completely unrelated: how do those who insist that "justify" always means "make righteous" possibly explain the use of the term in Luke 16:15: "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts"?


Matthias Flacius said...

Either we receive God's righteousness in Christ as he speaks it to us by faith or we seek to make ourselves righteous in this world.


Chris Jones said...

Who are those who say "justify" always means "make righteous"? Clearly it can mean "make righteous," "declare to be righteous," or even "claim to be righteous" (as in this passage).

Even if "make righteous" is the primary meaning (as I think it is), the meaning when used with the reflexive pronoun (as in δικαιουντες εαυτους) will not necessarily be the same. After all, even if you translate δικαιουντες εαυτους ενωπιον των ανθρωπων as "making themselves righteous in the sight of men" it still conveys the sense of "claiming righteousness" rather than that of an actual transformation into righteousness. It's the qualifier "in the sight of" that makes it clear that it is an apparent and subjective perception of righteousness that is being spoken of. That gives us the context that indicates that δικαιουντες has the sense of a claim of righteousness rather than the reality.

So I don't think this verse implies that "justify" generally means "make righteous." But not always -- again, I don't know anybody who claims that it always means that.

William Weedon said...


I was thinking specifically of the Roman tendency to insist that justification chiefly (I should have said that rather than always) means MAKING righteous; the Lutheran Symbols, of course, grant that Scripture speaks both ways (pronouncing and making), and I've written plenty before on why I think the two are intimately connected for God's declaration creates exactly what it says.

But "regard" seems clearly in the semantic domain in Luke 16 - they justify themselves before mean, meaning they wish to be regarded or accounted or considered as righteous. Similarly in Luke 7:29 - it struck me then too when we were reading that - the people "justified God." They didn't MAKE God righteous, but they declared that he was just, regarded him as righteous.

I always think of your wife this time of the year, my friend. My garden has Irises popping all over. Give her my regards.